March 2004 News Archive
An Excellent Set of MAME Improvements, All In
Convenient Patch Form
Have you ever wished you could make a game in MAME louder? Get rid of the game
warnings screens (such as video emulation not 100% accurate)? How about smoothing
out the frame rate so it exactly matches your screen refresh? Or skipping a
game's initialization displays?
All this and more is available in this excellent
set of patches from Alan Kamrowski II (SA Dev). Just run the included
batch file, choose the features you want patched, and the new features
will then be available in MAME as startup flags (such as "-skip_startup_frames").
These are some great features, and can be used to really
improve the "MAME Experience," especially on cabs — for
example, you can startup Galaga in 2 seconds instead of 16 (and skip the
initalization displays) by adding "-ssf 870" to the game initialization
(which skips the first 870 frames).
Cool Site Alert
In reviewing my site's referrer stats today, I ran across a very cool site, "Jake's
Misc Arcade Info Page." It's a simple page, but it's the content that
matters, and Jake's got some neat stuff, ranging from the unusual (how to make
a stained glass MAME marquee) to the downright useful, such as an
online MAME database that allows you to search and generate lists of MAME
games, sorted on everything from number of players to the screen frequency
I discovered the site because of some links to my site
MAME lightgun chart, which lists all the MAME-compatible light guns
that are available, their compatibility with different versions of Windows,
and more. Gotta love the Internet...
I've made arrangements to review the Devastator
II controller from Treyonics. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that
the president of Treyonics, James Krych, lives just a few minutes from my home
in Cleveland, Ohio. (In fact, after hearing about my back surgery, he's even
going to be bringing the controller to my house personally! How's that for
service? ;-) It'll be a week or two before we can hook up, but I'll get the
review done as quickly as possible after I've put the Devastator through its
The site changes I talked about begin...slowly. I've updated the search features
for RetroBlast, allowing for a quick Google search of the site from any page.
It's a tiny little change, and yet every page on the site is affected, so
if you find a broken link please let me know.
Ultimate MAME Gaming Machine?
If you've got the bucks, this may be the ultimate gaming station. The Navis,
from Gamedeck Videogaming
Equipment, looks like some sort of sophisticated exercise equipment, but
it's actually a computer desk, complete with drop down arms for all of your
gaming controls (including driving controllers). It even has an optical drive
neatly mounted under the mouse area. Looks to me that all this game station
needs for ultimate gaming nirvana is a nifty arcade control panel arm. Very
expensive, but also very cool.
(Click on picture for a larger view)
MAMEframe2 DVD Upgrade
just ordered a new slimline
external DVD/CD-RW drive for the MAMEframe2. While the cab already
had a combo DVD/CD-RW drive, I needed one that I could easily access
from the outside of the cab (since my youngest son loves playing his
favorite educational CDs on the MAMEframe, and who can blame him?) With
the slimline drive measuring only 5.37" x 5" x .75", I
should have no problem mounting it on the cab. I'll post pics after it's
I've made arrangements to review the EOps
Motion Sensor Gun as soon as it's released, which according to EOps will
be in late April, right before the E3
(Electronic Entertainment Exposition) show on May 12-14th.
(There are some very exciting MAME-related arcade gaming
products that will be coming out at the E3 show, and I'll have more news
and reviews just as soon as I am allowed to talk about them. ;-)
2 NVRAM File Available
If you've tried to play Terminator 2 in MAME, you've discovered that you first
have to calibrate the "guns" (which were actually analog joysticks
with guns attached to the top). If you're having trouble getting the game properly
calibrated in MAME, I've just uploaded a pre-configured NVRAM file, which is
available from the Retroblast File Downloads Page.
Happy Cyborg Blasting!
Review Starting Up...Again.
Slowly I am getting back to my apparently cursed attempts to get a "Joystick
Roundup" review finished. I'm starting to install joysticks for testing,
and will while I'm only doing some prelimiary tests right now, full testing
may begin as early as this weekend (if my doctor gives me the go-ahead!)
This picture is of two T-Stik
Plus Balltop joysticks, one installed in a metal mounting plate and
the other directly into my 3/4" wood "test panel." The
green joystick in the middle is a Happ
Competition joystick, included for height comparison.
SlikStik Controller Released!
SlikStik just released a new single
player controller yesterday, and from the look of things, it's going to
be great for single-player gaming.
It's got two joysticks (great for Robotron ;-) and even
has pinball buttons. It will be using a standard IPAC controller, meaning
that reprogramming the key assignments will be a cinch and there may even
be room for future "homebrew" additions.
Good Pinball Book
Since I'm still spending a lot of time on my back while by back heals, I thought
I'd recommend another good pinball book that I just finished reading, Pinball
Memories by Marco Rossignoli. This once examines a different pinball machine
manufactured each year from 1958 to 1998, and includes lots of details, including
rulesets and even "collectability" of the machine reviewed.
There are lots of great color pictures, and like before,
the pictures in the book are all available as poster prints from the author's
I'm still healing, and feeling better. I'm still limited to 10 minutes sitting
per session (30 min. max a day), so it makes writing reviews hard. That said,
I am getting in a lot of play time on the MAMEframe, and am making plenty
of plans for future reviews. Once I get the go-ahead from my doctor in 2-3
weeks, I'm going to start cranking out the reviews!
The surgery was a success, and although the recovery has had some exciting
moments (I reacted badly to the narcotic "pain pump" and went non-responsive
and stopped breathing), I'm alive now.
I won't be updating RetroBlast often for the next few
weeks, as I try and build up my strength and let my body heal itself. This,
unfortunately, means a lot of time laying down — I'm allowed a maximum
of 30 minutes upright a day. Sounds good, until you're forced to stay in
bed for hours and hours...
RetroBlast Site Going on Temporary Hiatus
I hate to do this, but there will not be any updates to RetroBlast for a while,
as I'm going into the hospital to have back surgery on Thursday (3/4/04)
and don't know how soon afterwards I'll be able to do any work on the site.
I'll try to post news when I can, but don't expect anything anytime soon.
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